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When it comes to starting out with anything, practice makes perfect. And with practice comes trial and error.
A wise person once said, “You must learn from your mistakes.” But, lucky for you, we have put together a list of eight common beginner painting mishaps — so you can learn what not to do, without actually having to find out the hard way.
Beginner Painting Mistakes and Solutions
1. Palette pains.
Also known as not setting up your palette the same way every time. This can lead you down a path of color chaos.
Constantly looking at your palette for a specific color, or accidentally dipping your brush in the wrong color can put a damper on your painting progress. Laying out your palette consistently allows you to work faster and focus on your painting, not the paint.
Also known as mixing too many colors in one. To avoid muddy hues, try sticking to only two or three colors. And, don’t over mix your pigments. As soon as you see the color you want, stop mixing.
3. Don’t go!
Also known as painting too far away from the subject of a still life. Make sure you are no more than two or three yards away from your subject when painting a still life. Likewise, if you’re right-handed, place your still life on your left, so your arm doesn’t block your view (and vice versa for left-handers).
4. It’s getting hot in here.
Also known as storing art materials in a warm area. When it comes to storage, keep completed work, works in progress and your materials in a cool, dry area away from light. It is also advisable to store your work in a relatively dust-free space. Particles can stick to wet paint and ruin the texture of your surface.
5. I’m bored.
Also known as neglecting to add a focal point. Many beginning painters tend to think too much about accuracy and not enough about the alluring, more dynamic qualities of their art. Use a viewfinder, if you are overwhelmed by the scene in front of you. And, make sure to determine what your focal point is before starting your next art piece.
6. Do you think that paint grows on trees?
Also known as wasting paint. You can find ways to save your materials for practically any medium. Oil painting palettes, for example, can be stored in the freezer, which extends their longevity.
For watercolors, try a palette with a lid. When the unused paint on the palette dries, it can be packed away easily and safely. When you’re ready to paint again, just add water.
7. Forgetting about prime time.
Also known as not priming a canvas. Working on an unprimed canvas is certainly doable, but nothing prevents the paint from soaking through the surface and deteriorating the canvas.
Primed canvas allows artists to skip the process of mixing and applying the sizing and ground, which many beginning artists prefer. However, unprimed canvas is less expensive. And, frequent painters find it beneficial to learn how to apply their own priming, because it cuts costs and enables them to create a texture specific to their painting needs.
8. Don’t be a stranger!
Also known as forgetting about freebies and reaching out. Art supply manufacturers want your business. And, as a result, tons of manufacturers will offer free test sizes of materials online and even at some stores. Don’t be afraid to reach out to art companies directly for additional information. They love hearing from artists.
Even More Beginner Painting Advice
If the above tips just weren’t enough, or if you are hungry for more beginner painting instruction, check out this quick video tutorial below. All you need for beginner paintings are these three crucial things: the surface you use, the brush you choose and your palette. Start here!
And, be sure to check out The Absolute Beginner’s Big Book of Drawing and Painting to build your confidence in both drawing and painting with more than 100 easy-to-follow lessons in pencil, watercolor and oil. Onward, artists!